[Language and eating problems in children: co-occurrences or coincidences?]

Pro Fono. Apr-Jun 2007;19(2):205-14. doi: 10.1590/s0104-56872007000200009.
[Article in Portuguese]


Background: Relationship between language problems and eating disorders in children.

Aim: To analyze the possible co-occurrence of these disorders taking into consideration a relationship that has structural implications, the reciprocal influences between language, body and physique.

Method: Clinical quantitative-qualitative, based on free observations of non intentional samples of 35 children (between 1:4 and 7:0 years of age), presenting oral language problems and who were seen at a school clinic during the period of one year. One case study (J., 4:0 years old) was highlighted from the group of participants, with the importance of an emblematic scenario regarding the theoretical paradigm used in the discussion of the results. The evaluation procedure of each participant consisted of two interviews with the families, a language analysis in the dialogical context and in a play situation, and an evaluation of the oral performance.

Results: Language problems and eating disorders co-occurred in 100% of the cases. These were sub-divided according to age due to similarities of the symptoms. Group A (1:4 to 3:0 years of age) was composed by 10 participants (28.7%) presenting: delay in oral language development, restrictions in interaction, dysphagia or hypophagia. Group B (3:1 to 5:0 years of age) composed by 20 participants presenting: from the absence of oral language to a discursive weakness; articulatory disturbance; mastication and swallowing problems; eating idiosyncrasies and obesity. Group C (5:1 to 7:0 years of age) composed by 5 participants (14,28%) presenting: severe discursive alterations; articulatory disturbances; mastication and swallowing problems and the refusal of certain foods.

Conclusion: The co-occurrence of oral language problems and eating disorders is not just a coincidence. Both disorders configure themselves as oral disturbances. It is suggested that speech-language pathologists investigate eating difficulties during the diagnostic process of clients with complaints and/or symptoms that have manifestations on oral language.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Body Image
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Language Disorders / complications*
  • Language Disorders / psychology
  • Speech-Language Pathology